The writer is an assistant professor of Chemistry at LUMS

Deadly gestures of kindness

People blindly following social media influencers on matters related to health

Muhammad Zaheer March 13, 2021

What should you do in case you suffer from Covid-19? You will find loads of misinformation regarding this circulating on the internet. After recovery from the disease, people — as an act of welfare — share the diet and medications they had taken to manage their illness, on social media. Most don't have any background in biological or medical sciences, but have thousands of followers. People blindly following social media influencers start taking the suggested medicines upon the onset of Covid-like symptoms. This habit of self-medication could be perilous at a time when a third wave of the pandemic is hitting several cities of Punjab, Islamabad, and K-P.

Misinformation and disinformation are more contagious than the virus. I saw an article in a daily Urdu newspaper where the writer shares how he first caught and then defeated the virus with homeopathic medicines. He shares a detailed prescription containing medicine names, dosage, contact of the doctor, and other famous people treated as a gesture of kindness. Several people thanked the writer and attributed this kindness to sadqa-e-jaria. The article’s title, ‘How Can We Survive Coronavirus?’ and content is pretty much what one must avoid if (s)he gets ill.

There isn't a cure of Covid-19 in hikmat, homeopathy, or allopathy. Your immunity will fight the virus and eliminate it from the body, and most patients recover without any hospitalisation. However, the disease's severeness varies from person to person and depends on the immunity response. Therefore, it is imperative to consult a physician if one tests Covid-positive. After conducting some tests, a physician would suggest the treatment based on the severity of the disease and damage done by the virus. The treatment centres on the management of symptoms until your body eliminates the virus. One might need hospitalisation in case of oxygen deficiency and blood thinners or even steroids as per the physician’s discretion. Sometimes symptoms worsen in a short period, and it is vital to contact physicians early. Most Covid-19 deaths were because of late hospitalisation of patients when the virus had already done significant damage.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) clearly says that there isn't any good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective. The immunity and placebo effect of homeopathic medicines leads to a full recovery from the disease. One would have recovered equally without taking anything. However, advertisement and endorsement of fraudulent remedies not approved by any drug regulatory authority might cost human lives. Fake cures and unproven treatments played a central role in devastating coronavirus outbreaks in Latin America. Even in the absence of side effects, bogus remedies might cause the patients to delay or stop proper medical treatment leading to life-threatening harm.

The most authentic information about any aspect of Covid-19 can be obtained from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). As the procurement of the vaccines and immunisation of the entire population will take months, following SOPs is the best way to contain the virus. Covid-19 primarily spreads through respiratory droplets; therefore, wearing masks and keeping a social distance is the most effective way to prevent virus spread. Frequent washing or sanitising of hands is also essential. In case of catching the virus, self-isolation and contacting a physician must be the practice instead of following any social media charlatans and self-medication. Spreading misinformation and endorsing fake remedies could be lethal.

The writer is an assistant professor of chemistry at LUMS


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